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83-year-old wins unfair dismissal claim against superstore

Posted: 13th January 2016   In: Business Employment, Individual Employment

An 83-year-old shop assistant who was sacked for leaving his till open while he dealt with a customer has won his claim of unfair dismissal.

Ivor Smith had worked for B&Q in Glasgow for 12 years. In August 2014, a customer asked him for change of £200 in coins. He left his till open for 3½ minutes while he counted out the coins. This was against company policy.

He said he was told that he had caused a "serious breach of security" and was marched out of the shop “like a criminal”. He was dismissed for gross misconduct and later brought a claim of unfair dismissal, claiming that he had been treated unfairly and should not have been dismissed for a mere misdemeanour .

The store’s trading manager, Euan Wilson, told the Employment Tribunal that Mr Smith’s actions had given customers access to the till. "My view was that this was a serious breach of security. A tender transaction should not take that long.”

Mr Wilson said there was camera evidence that a customer had twice put his hand in the till. Mr Smith said the customer had not touched any money.

The tribunal held that Mr Smith had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him £4,877 compensation.

Employment judge Laura Doherty said the tribunal took into account “the fact that he had no clear notice that such conduct on his part would be regarded by his employers as gross misconduct leading to his dismissal”.

Please contact Robert Bedford if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.